Travel site Expedia has launched a new loyalty scheme offering points on bookings that can be exchanged for money off future reservations. Yet while it's possible to bag yourself a saving with the scheme, when booking always check if better deals can be found elsewhere.

The scheme, which is known as Expedia+, gives points for bookings made via Expedia which can later be used for money off hotels and flights or vouchers towards 'flight plus hotel' bookings.

The firm has offered 'member-only' deals before, but this is the first time it's offered a loyalty scheme of this kind.

Points earned are on top of the Nectar points you can earn with Expedia bookings, and you'll also continue to earn points as normal with frequent flyer schemes such as Avios and Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club.

Check out our Cheap Flights and Cheap Hotels guides if you're planning on jetting off for a spot of winter sun.

How does it work?

You need to sign up to the scheme via Expedia, or log in if you're an existing member. You'll accrue points once you make a booking, although they won't be added to your account until after you've travelled.

The number of points earned depends on what you're booking and what tier you are. Expedia has three membership tiers:

  • Blue: The lowest tier, available as soon as you sign up or log in.
  • Silver: You move up to this tier with a booking of seven nights in a hotel or when you spend £5,000. Those in the silver tier also get additional discounts on hotel facilities or free drinks at selected hotels.
  • Gold: You join this tier when you book 15 nights in a hotel or spend £10,000. Includes the perks of silver membership plus free upgrades and flexible check-in and check-out at selected hotels.

Here's how much you could earn:

  • Two points per £1 spent on hotels, packages with a hotel, flight and car hire bookings, activities and some car hire.
  • One point per £5 spent on flights.
  • You can also earn bonus points. You get 10% more points with silver membership, 30% more with gold. You'll also get extra points if you book via Expedia's app.

And here's how to spend your points:

  • You'll need at least 3,500 points to get money off a future booking, whether it's for a hotel or flight only, or a flight plus hotel. 3,500 points is worth £25 off.
  • If your next booking's a hotel or flight, these points can be applied automatically at checkout to get the discount.
  • For flight plus hotel bookings, you'll need to redeem your points for a voucher first, then use that. Vouchers are valid for a year and are only available in £25 increments.

How good is it?

Expedia's new scheme is a good bonus if you're booking with it anyway, but don't make the mistake of thinking Expedia's necessarily the cheapest place to book as a result. You still need to do your research and compare prices elsewhere.

Bear in mind you'll need to spend at least £1,750 on flight plus hotel bookings, or a huge £17,500 on flight-only bookings, to get a £25 voucher. Here's a couple of examples we looked at:

  • A booking via Expedia for six nights at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, plus return flights from London with Virgin Atlantic, was £1,088pp (£2,176 in total) based on two sharing. There was an additional $118pp (approx £97) due at the hotel on arrival. For that, you'd get 4,350 points, equivalent to about £31 back in vouchers.

    In comparison, the same package was £1,082pp via Virgin Holidays, with no fee due to the hotel on arrival making it about £87pp cheaper, even if you take into account the voucher earned via Expedia+.
  • However, Expedia proved better value on a week-long break to Malaga for a family of four, including return flights, a self-catering apartment and car hire. Via Expedia, this was £1,446 in total compared with £1,475 via TravelSupermarket. Plus with Expedia, you'd earn 1,400 points, which although 2,100 points short of a £25 discount, is still worth about £10 and could eventually be used towards another booking.

You'll also get double points if you book via the Expedia app. Using the examples above, this would mean around £62-worth of points for future travel after booking the Las Vegas trip, and around £20 from the Malaga booking. Las Vegas would still be cheaper booked elsewhere though, despite the points bonus.

Something else to consider is that you can earn points in addition to cashback via sites such as Topcashback and Quidco – these sites currently give 3.5% and 5% cashback respectively on flight plus hotel bookings and 12% and 8% on hotels. Both give 1% cashback on flights.